For those of you who brew, you may be familiar with how much like life it can be. You have good days and bad days throughout your life, and the same with making beer. You have good brew days and bad brew days. Like life, it seems to come in streaks. Eleven months go by and we are nailing every beer we make and/or attempt. The numbers hit where they should, fermentation is strong, the finished beer’s flavors pop, and they are so well balanced. I am so proud of those beers.
Then we have those periods of time when we cannot catch a break. Equipment malfunctions, temperatures overshoot, mashes stick, we don’t close a valve and sticky wort goes everywhere. The finished beer is not bright like it should be, or balanced as we intended. The list goes on and on.
Brewing is a lot about problem-solving on the fly, but sometimes things go so wrong that you just can’t recover. These are the most humbling moments. It’s almost as if the beer Gods reward you with a string of great brew days and beautiful beers, but only as long as you honor and respect the craft and the process. When you get cocky, they respond by humbling you. They let you know that as much as you try to control the whole process, beer is a breathing living work of art. You have to care for it and really manage it from start to finish, and you are reminded that you are really not in control. The second you get arrogant and overconfident, it humbles you. It can sometimes make you feel like maybe you DON’T really know as much as you thought you did.
These bad brew days that you can’t recover from sometimes result in some pretty disappointing beers. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It is rare that we will dump a batch, and don’t think it’s because we don’t have standards. For example, we did a brewing class several months ago where the beer did not come out great. Everyone in the class looked at me like I was crazy during the tasting because if it was my beer… I would’ve dumped it.
That is not to say that we are beer snobs by any stretch, but I guess after all those years I pick up on things that aren’t quite right. In no way is my palate that great. So when I say we rarely dump a batch, it has to be something I’m embarrassed to serve others. Lets not forget that the famed brew crew is even more critical than I am, and have no issue pointing out when one of our beers is not on point.
So, back to my first point. I guess what I’m trying to say today, is that you can have bad periods of time in your life, and the same applies to making beer. It’s cyclical. Perhaps this happens because you’ve gotten overconfident as previously mentioned, and as a result, life humbles you. Perhaps you were not focusing on what you should have been. Or spending time and energy on the things that are most important.
The thing to remember is that in life, you can’t just ride out the tough times in the hopes that they will improve. That’s just insanity. Keep doing the same thing, and you WILL get the same result. It’s about problem solving on the fly, learning and staying focused on what matters. You already know that some things are out of your control in life. BUT, the things you can control, you better make damn sure that you are on top of those. When life rewards you with a string of perfect circumstances, you are already focused on what matters, and handling your business as you should. When all those things align, you will achieve something next level.
Don’t give up, and never forget to take the time to sit back and be grateful for what you do have. Always have hope that your next season of good fortune is just around the corner.
Until next time, my friends.